A spruce from Switzerland
BLOCH is a global and multidisciplinary project by Swiss artist duo Com&Com (Marcus Gossolt / Johannes M. Hedinger), which unites contemporary art and folk culture and creates a dialogue among various people, traditions, and customs.
The Bloch is part of an old carnival tradition from the Swiss region of Appenzell. When the last spruce tree is felled in the winter, the trunk – known as the Bloch – is pulled by twenty men from the village of Urnäsch to Herisau and back. At the end of this one-day procession, the trunk is sold to the highest bidder in the village square of Urnäsch to be processed into shingles or furniture.
In 2011, Com&Com bought the Bloch and planned to send it on a journey around the globe, with stops on every continent (2012-2020).
Our goal is to develop a new Bloch custom at each station based on local traditions. In this process, the original custom and its meaning will change, enter into a dialogue with foreign cultures and people, mix with new elements, and be reinterpreted. At every stage of the journey, something completely new will emerge. This art event will be accompanied by discussions (talks, symposia) and other cultural and social events (exhibits, festivals, music, theater), as well as individual artworks, short films, and a website.
Bloch was purchased at an auction in Urnäsch on March 7 2011 by Com&Com. On Oct 4 2011 he had his first TV appereance at TEDxZurich Conference. From Oct 27. – Nov 20. 2011 it was be part of the exhibition “3 heures 57 minutes” at Fonderie Kugler Genève. Until April 2012 Bloch was stored at Kunstgiesserei in St. Gallen, where we printed with it and the last preparations for the big journey were made.
Before leaving Switzerland, Bloch was presented at Stadtgalerie Bern and Gallery Bernhard Bischoff (12.4. – 19.5. 2012) for a procession and farwell performance.
On June 1./2. 2012 Bloch visited Berlin/Germany as its first abroad station. In collaboration with Bazon Brock and his Denkerei and the Swiss Embassy there were performances, a processions, a conference, an exhibition and a concert.
The next stations of Bloch were Art Basel (Swiss Art Awards, June 11.-17.), ZKM and Profibürger with Bazon Brock in Karlsruhe/Germany (July 19), Helmhaus Zurich (July 27 – Sept 9 2012) and Lagerhaus St.Gallen (Aug. 30- Sept. 23).
Then Bloch left Europe in a Container and traveled to Asia where it was presented in Taiwan (Juming Museum Taipei, Oct 21 – Feb 17. 2013) and was part of the 9. Shanghai Biennale (October 1 2012 – March 31 2013) at the Power Station of Art in Shanghai/China. On February 23 the Bloch Festival took place with over 50 Chinese artists (Music, Dance, Opera, Fashion Show).
In May 2013 the Bloch Project was presented at the at DAW /Japan Creative Centre in Singapore. Then it came back to Switzerland for winter camp and an exhibition at Zeughaus Teufen before travelling to its third continent, North America.
In July and August 2014 Bloch was on an extended tour across North Dakota/USA with various Performances, Events and Music in and at Downtown Fargo Street Fair, Fargo, Napoleon, Nokota Horse Conservancy, Linton, Taylor Horsefest, Taylor, Fort Totten Days, Spirit Lake Indian Reservation, “Bloch Party,” Rugby (geographical center of North America), Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation and “Bloch Party,” Hjemkomst Center, Fargo/Moorhead.
In September 2015 we drove with Bloch across with a stopover in Cincinnati / Ohio with a magical concert by the Faux Frenchmen at Carl Solway Gallery.
Then we head for New York City where Bloch had a residency at the Knockdown Center in Maspeth/Queens, and guest projects at Silent Barn in Bushwick/Brooklyn and at the Onderdonk House in Ridgewood/Queens.
After a rich program with exhibitions, performances, concerts, conference, a comedy show, a procession and much more..
Bloch has arrived in February 2017 in South Africa. Its first appearance was at the Wood Conference in Cape Town, followed by a short residency at ERF81, then Bloch had a first residency at the department of fine Arts at the department of visual arts at the University of Johannesburg. It later made an appearance at the KKNK Festival in Oudtshoorn, and then travelled the Klein Karoo, stopping in Nieu Bethesda, Richmond, de Aar and Hanover, before heading back to Johannesburg and Soweto. In a third journey, Bloch went east to Nelspruit and Graskop, where it is currently on show.
In 2019 Bloch was traveling to Chile and its fifth continent. In Antofagasta, Bloch was part of the contemporary art festival SACO8.
After extended travel through the Atacama deserts, Bloch was the centre of a performance day in the towncentre of Antofagasta.
– Due to the COVID-Pandemie Bloch is still in lockdown in Antofagasta/Chile and waiting for the continuation of its journey. Meanwhile Bloch was part of the major survey exhibition on Folklore 2020 at the Centre Pompidou Metz and 2021 at MUCEM in Marseille. Currently the plan is to ship Bloch in 2022 to India.
We are open for proposals from artists, potential collaborators, curators, museums, festivals and other institutions – especially from South America, the middle East and Australia. Please feel free to contact us.
To support the project we have launched the “Internationale Bloch Gesellschaft” – a society of friends of Bloch.